Friday, September 24, 2010

If you will it, it is no Nightmare

Emmanuel Navon
For the Sake of Zion
23 September '10

Thus didn’t Herzl write in Altneuland: his famous punch line referred to a dream, of course. That dream came true, but so did the nightmarish sight of an intellectual tyranny.

Ever since Israel’s first Minister of Justice Pinhas Rosen called his law partner Moshe Zmora to appoint him President of the Supreme Court, the country’s ruling elites have mastered a type of nepotism that favors and reproduces intellectual uniformity. Former Chief Justice Aaron Barak made sure that Ruth Gavison wouldn’t get his job because she had dared to question his judicial activism (“She has an agenda” Barak explained –as if Barak himself didn’t have one). Similarly, Barak declared in January 2008 that the Minister of Justice’s attempts to reform the appointment of Israel’s Supreme Court could turn Israel into a third world country.

Really? Actually, Israel is the only Western democracy whose Supreme Court is not appointed by politicians. Our judges are selected by a nine-member committee comprised of two cabinet ministers (chosen by the government), one coalition and one opposition MK (chosen by the Knesset), three sitting justices (chosen by the Supreme Court President), and two lawyers (chosen by the Bar Association). So politicians occupy only four out of the nine seats. The legal establishment, with five seats, dominates the panel.

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